Ready To Work (RTW) is a soft skills training program that provides participants entry level skills needed for employment. The new RTW curriculum debuted in October 2017 and, along with content updates, sought to increase accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
With these updates, AIDT was able to establish a partnership with E.H. Gentry, a vocational and educational rehabilitation program, which serves adults within the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind to offer the RTW program to their students. Shonna Soliday, from Huntsville, AL, enrolled in the RTW program and is the first graduate of their program.
Students in every RTW class learn a variety of skills under the Ready To Work Program, set to standards set by business and industry employers throughout the state, and skills as directed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) Reports.
E.H. Gentry began to offer the new Ready To Work Program in the Fall of 2017, and used the curriculum as a way to further their mission of helping students achieve economic and personal independence.
For Shonna, who developed low vision as a young adult, had no job experience at all before coming into the program the training
and the skills she learned have already helped her.
“I did different modules with one teacher and they were job preparation, problem solving skills, communication and workplace behavior,” said Soliday. “Those really helped me because I’ve never really been in an actual workplace to know what kind of things I would run into.”
For Shonna, it was the problem-solving module, which includes conflict resolution, that she found the most insightful.
“I realize that not everyone can get along– coworkers, customers, things like that,” said Soliday. “I now have the tools to communicate effectively instead of doing the wrong thing.”
Tammy Browning, ADA Coordinator for AIDT, said that Shonna’s graduation from the Ready To Work program has been a labor of love which has resulted in success.
“This has been a huge endeavor of the partnership,” said Browning. “This is the only program in the state that is specifically designed to serve individuals who are deaf and blind. It has been a labor of love and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this. It’s incredible to see Shonna’s success and to hear specifically the benefits that she feels like she has received by participating. It was surreal to stand there with her, holding that certificate.”
Shonna expressed her appreciation for the program, which has led her to be able to be more effective in her job search and live independently. She has already had an interview since her graduation on June 1.
Upon successful completion of the program and earning 70 percent or higher on comprehensive assessments, graduates will receive the Alabama Certified Worker (ACW) Certificate, issued by AIDT, and the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), issued by ACT.
“I realized that if I had not done it, and then tried to get a job, I wouldn’t know all of the skills. I would have had to start from the bottom and someone would have to work with me even more than just training me. I feel ready.”
And for other individuals who are considering the Ready To Work program, she said that they might be surprised by the benefits they receive by attending.
“It’s really beneficial especially for people who have never had a job or any type of experience ever,” said Soliday. “Even if they think it’s not going to benefit them that they should do it, there are surprising benefits that you wouldn’t really think of.”
Ready To Work is offered at no cost to participants. Individuals interested in learning more about the program and enrollment details, should contact their local community college.